Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The urge for freedom will eventually come.  – Martin Luther King Jr. 

The words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are at the heart of the disability rights and independent living movement, but this story is told in the words of less celebrated freedom fighters…

All I heard was no, no, no; you can’t, you can’t, you can’t….  – Dewey 

I was afraid. I was ashamed of who I was because I didn’t fit in. – Adrian

Some people don’t look at me as an adult. Some people look at me as a child. – Kenny

I’m not noble. I’m not pathetic. I’m not anything you think.  – Dewey

When I was little, doctors told my parents I wouldn’t be able to talk. I found my voice last year in writing a message to my legislator about the transit issue. Then this year, I gave a speech before a hundred people. – Heather  

It’s all in your heart, it’s all in your mind – you can do what you need to do. – Adrian

To me, self advocacy is speaking up for what I need. I’m good at speaking up for what other people need, but I need to speak up for what I need and I’m just learning how to achieve that.  – Larry

No one is going to change things for you. You have to change the way you look at yourself. It has to come from the individual.  – Dewey

I think that if we do not educate everybody about what we want, we won’t be free.   – Robert

People need to realize we are all citizens of this country. We are just asking for the same chance as everyone else. – Sean

Don’t leave us out in the cold.  – Kenny

We don’t want anything especially unique to us. We just want what is out there to be fair and available to people with disabilities.  – Emily

Independent living means a lot to me. I just moved into my first apartment a few months ago…. There’s nothing better than being able to live on your own and have a space that you can call your own and to have that independence.  – John

People don’t think about how many choices they take for granted or that they’ve always had…. It’s the small things that make each individual have a life that they cherish and sometimes the small things are ignored.  – Emily

Most of us have said that either parents or doctors told us that since we have disabilities we won’t amount to anything – won’t walk or talk or be able to learn anything or live on our own. But evidence shows that people are starting to prove parents and doctors and support people wrong, and that we are all citizens and we’re able to get out there and be independent and have a voice and be a person in our communities.  – John

My mother always said I was very rebellious and very opinionated and I thank God for that. Thank God for that. Thank God for that sense of rebellion because it keeps me going.  – Dewey

The only person that can change your feeling is you. – Adrian